The World Around Me

Callen Harty - March 2001

Here is what Callen says about his work:

The World Around Me.

Some people might say that quitting a job at the age of 43, with no employment in sight, must certainly be the sign of an unbalanced personality or perhaps the oncoming of a mid-life crisis. They are entitled to their opinions, but my life has always been somewhat dictated by the whim of any given moment.

The truth is, with only two jobs in the last nine years, one for seven years and one for two and a quarter, and both of them high-stress situations, I needed a change and I needed a break. I honestly didn't know my break was going to last more than four months or that I would embark upon an odyssey of discovery of my home state and a rediscovery of my own soul, or that I would document my journeys of discovery with thousands of photographs that reveal the world around me in ways I could not have imagined.

Somewhere along the line I knew that I had to share what was happening with others. I started showing some of the photographs to friends and associates and received positive feedback.

The result is "The World Around Me," an exploration of the place where I live and my place in it. I noticed early on that certain types of images appealed to me and that certain paradoxes intrigued me. Order and disarray were equally interesting. Creation and destruction both caught my eye. Man and nature, sometimes struggling, sometimes in harmony, held the same value. Man's impact on nature was as compelling as nature's impact on man. The bizarre and the absolutely normal were both riveting. Religious iconography, perhaps because of a lifelong struggle with a dogmatic upbringing, always caused me to pause. There is much of all of the above in Wisconsin and I found it everywhere I went.

All of the images were captured between the day I left my last job (July 14, 2000) and the day I started my next one (December 5, 2000). All of them were found in the southern half of Wisconsin, from Eau Claire to the north, down to the southern, western and eastern borders. Except for some judicious cropping, and then only on a small percentage of the photos, none of the images has been manipulated in any way. All of them were taken with a digital camera, a Kodak DC215 Zoom with a standard lens, 2x zoom lens, and a micro lens all built into one unit. The shutter speed and f-stops were automatic. My input was the selection of what to photograph, in what light, and with what framing. With the exception of some portraits, for which people tend to pose, none of the pictures were set up in any way. I merely photographed what I found in the world around me.

Finally, here is some basic biographical information:

Callen Harty is best known to Madisonians from his work as a writer, director and actor, primarily at Broom Street Theater on Williamson Street. He has appeared on stage hundreds of times in about 60 productions. He has also written and directed ten full-length and numerous one-act plays for Broom Street Theater, Mercury Players and the Wisconsin Veterans' Museum. He is also a published poet and essayist. Outside of the arts he has been a social activist, especially for gay causes, having co-founded the UW's 10% Society, worked and volunteered at OutReach, with Proud Theater and as a member of Dane County's Same Sex Domestic Violence committee.

Photography is newer to him, though he did work as a photographer for his high school yearbook many years ago. This is his second showing of "The World Around Me," the first being at OutReach in February of this year. He recently won first place in a photography contest sponsored by Scott Stamp Monthly and has had a few photographs published. He is currently working on putting "The World Around Me" into book form.